Congresswoman Stefanik Introduces Wage Equity Act, More Than 30 House Republicans Cosponsor

April 13, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik led a group of Republican colleagues in reintroducing the Wage Equity Act to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work. Modeled after bipartisan legislation that has been signed into law in states across the country, the bill encourages employers to proactively evaluate their pay practices and eliminate pay disparities in their workplaces, while empowering employees to negotiate pay based on their qualifications and merit.

Congresswoman Stefanik’s Wage Equity Act comes ahead of the Democrats’ proposal, which benefits trial lawyers over working women, limits the rights of prospective employees in the hiring process, and impedes American job creators with millions of dollars in compliance costs.

“The Wage Equity Act is a practical, 21st century solution to achieve equal pay for equal work once and for all by empowering businesses and employees to work together in pursuit of this common goal,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Democrats’ alternative legislation would pave the way for frivolous lawsuits and unnecessary burdens on businesses, including those owned and operated by women themselves.”

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, added, “Rep. Stefanik’s bill helps working women unlike the Democrats’ so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, which will unfairly punish business owners and reward trial lawyers rather than workers. H.R. 7 is a disingenuous effort on behalf of Democrats to signal ‘progress’ without affecting any change. If Democrats are truly interested in supporting working women, then Rep. Stefanik’s bill—which among other provisions encourages employers to evaluate their pay practices, ensures pay differences among workers of the opposite sex are due to legitimate, business-related reasons, and directs funds and research towards women’s advancement—is a no-brainer.”

The Wage Equity Act would empower women in the 21st century workplace by:

  • Strengthening the Equal Pay Act to ensure differences in pay must be based on legitimate business reasons
  • Encouraging businesses to undergo a voluntary pay analysis to proactively rectify disparities
  • Authorizing a grant program to educate women in college, career, and technical programs on negotiating pay
  • Allowing employees to voluntarily disclose prior salary history
  • Protecting the ability of employees to discuss compensation with their colleagues, but gives employers the right to set reasonable limitations on time, location, and manner of those discussions
  • Protecting employers’ ability to have a salary expectation conversation with prospective employees
  • Instructing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on the causes and impacts of the “managers gap” (the time when many women leave the workforce for parental/family reasons)

In contrast, the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act empowers trial lawyers over employees and employers, and intrudes on America’s businesses by:

  • Establishing an unworkable standard for employers to defend against lawsuits when a pay disparity is based on legitimate factors other than sex
  • Requiring the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect intrusive data on employees based on compensation rates, sex, race, and national origin
  • This action would cost an estimated $600 million for employers each year
  • Expanding class action lawsuits and requiring parties who do not wish to pursue a claim to affirmatively opt-out of one
  • Opening claims to unlimited compensatory or punitive damages, even if there is no finding of intentional discrimination